Orgs and survival instincts LO12013

Ragnar S. Johansen (
17 Jan 1997 08:54:48 +0100

Replying to LO11977

Ben Compton asked:

>How can an organization develop a survival instinct the same as a
>human being?

There is an old (late 70's or early 80's?), but commonly reffered
HBR-article, dealing with this issue, but I cant find the referance. It's
about a steel mill in Canada, that is close to being forced out of
busines. I'll skip the details, but the key content is something like

"We were in big trouble. We needed a shared understanding of what kind of
crisis we where in, and managed to build one". Using an eksternal threat
is the oldest method of gathering a people (or, in this case, an
organization) This is when it gets interesting: "In order to respond to
the situation, whe found that we had to STOP THINKING IN SQARES AND START
THINKING IN BUBBELS INSTEAD" (or was it circels? - whatever.)

The sqare/bubble metaphore is then used to move the organization from its
old, "Taylorist" working mode, and over in a more flexible, less
controling mode. I view this as an early example of a learning
organization comming to life without "management mumbo-jumbo" telling them
why and how. And it's pure survival!

I'm sure someone knows this article, or I'll dig it up on request.

Have to go; see y'all.

Ragnar Johansen


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